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Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors
What is Sue and Settle?
"Sue and Settle" refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process. The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties. These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.
As an example, between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in over 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups. These cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations - including the recent Clean Power Plan.
Recent Notices of Intent to Sue on EPA's Website
|8/16/2016||CAA, Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health
For failure to perform a mandatory duty with regard to PM2.5 to protect the state of Wisconsin.
|8/3/2016||CAA, Citizens for Clean Air and Sierra Club
For failure to determine whether the Fairbanks North Star Borough non-attainment area has attained the 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS and to publish notice of that finding in the Federal Register, in addition to potentially reclassification of the area as a “serious” non-attainment area “no later than 6 months following the attainment date.
|7/21/2016||CAA, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Sierra Club and Environmental Integrity Project
For unreasonable delay in responding to petition requesting that EPA reconsider its final action on the startup and shutdown provisions from the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
|7/21/2016||CWA, Municipality of San Juan
Notice of Intent to Sue for aerial spraying of pesticides in Puerto Rico to combat the Zika Virus.
For a full list of EPA's Notices of Intent to Sue, visit http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html.
What is New in Sue and Settle?
- 9/28: E&E | Suit aims to force EPA crackdown on states over soot rules (subscription required)
- 9/28: NBC News | Politicians Squawk at Greater Sage Grouse Provision in Annual Defense Bill
- 9/27: Capital Press | CAFO air quality lawsuit dismissed
- 9/22: Washington Times | Bull trout lawsuit targets Payette National Forest roads
- 9/15: E&E | Judges weigh legal standing in fight over owl habitat (subscription required)
- 9/14: E&E | Legal standing at issue in fight over critical habitat (subscription required)
- 9/12: Houma Today | Shrimpers may face new turtle-protection rules
- 9/12: The Hill | Greens move to dismiss EPA lawsuit over airplane emissions
- 9/12: Sea Turtle Restoration Network | Lawsuit Launched to Protect West Coast Whales From Dying in Nets
- 9/12: E&E | Deal possible in N.C. v. EPA suit following Cross-State rule (subscription required)
- 9/8: Business Insider | EPA sued over clean water rules to curb ocean acidification
- 9/8: E&E | BLM sage grouse plans not limiting development — report (subscription required)
- 9/7: Reuters | U.S. judge halts fracking plan for federal lands in California
- 9/2: Northwest Arkansas News | EPA haze plan finalized; state still opposes it
See all -- Sue and Settle News Archive
What are the Economic Implications of our Findings?
Interactive List of All Sue & Settle Cases
Also see this alternate table, which lists court cases resolved by agency action in response to legal challenges.